A while back, I released a small collection of horizontal scrolling WordPress themes which became quite popular. I remember thinking at the time that nobody would really care about horizontal themes, since they're often perceived as just a gimmick in the WordPress theme world. Actually, it turns out that there is a good deal of interest in this unusual form factor.
Since that post, I have kept track of new horizontal theme releases and here is a list of newcomers to the field. The more I look into this form factor, the more it is clear to me that it fits our world of smartphones and tablets. The first tablet I ever purchased was a Google Nexus 7. I'm still using it today and I love it. One thing I've noticed is that it has changed the way I look at WordPress theme design.
The first “test” I run on any new WordPress theme that catches my attention is to see how it performs on my tablet. By “perform”, I mean what sort of “experience” does it provide? The second test is to see how it performs on my iPhone and the same criteria applies. Finally, I check the theme out on my laptop. If the theme responds well across all 3 platforms, I put it on my “themes for future projects” list.
Many of the horizontal scrolling WordPress themes below are part of that list. Take a look for yourself. Keep an open mind and let me know what you think about the whole horizontal form factor in the comments section below.
Camilla is one of my favourite horizontal scrolling WordPress themes. Designed with photographers, graphic designers and anyone who works with images in mind, the theme offers 3 different colour schemes (light, dark and red), a portfolio section, a bespoke resume template, a blog section and contact form. A lot of work has gone into the user experience of this theme. For example, New visitors are met with a small popup explanation of how to scroll and use the theme. Transitions between sections are smooth and easy to navigate. The portfolio, about, and blog pages work vertically to give users extra space to play with. All in all, this is a very professional looking theme with a solid feature set and good usability.
Author: ThemeVillage / Type: Portfolio & Blog / Price: $49 / Demo & Download →
The Fluxus WordPress theme is one of my favourite “minimalist” portfolio designs. The homepage presents visitors with an immersive fullscreen image slider. If you jump to the portfolio template, the core part of this design, you can choose between a horizontal layout or a typical vertical grid layout. You have the best of both worlds in that sense. The blog template is also horizontal scrolling and the image sizes and layout are smaller than the portfolio template. This is key to differentiating between different types of site content. You can also choose between “light” and “dark” versions of the theme and of course, as you'd expect, the design is responsive and works well on all form factors. All in all, this is a super clean theme that puts the emphasis on your content in a professional and classy way.
Author: InTheme / Type: Portfolio & Blog / Price: $49 / Demo & Download →
Slider is a beautiful, photography oriented horizontal scrolling portfolio theme by the New York based WordPress developers, Graph Press Paper. Right off the bat, I love the way content is framed in “polaroid” style, giving each image on the front page a space and look of its own. This theme is really focused on its presentation of images and I could see this working well for artists and designers. The theme supports the Google font library which means you can select from over 40 different font faces and change the look and readability of the theme. Another neat feature is the gallery template, which allows you to present multiple images in a single post. The layout of images and text really blends well together. Finally, I also appreciated the double layer of navigation for laptop or desktop computer users. While horizontal themes lend themselves well to touchscreen mobile devices, navigation can still be somewhat cumbersome on traditional PCs. This theme addresses that issues by adding extra layers of navigation. All in all, this is one of my favourite themes.
Author: Graph Press Paper / Type: Portfolio / Price: Free / Pro $99 / Demo & Download →
The Highlight theme, by another New York based designer Shaken & Stirred Themes, is a minimal, responsive, horizontal scrolling portfolio and blog that comes in “light” and “dark” colour schemes. The portfolio template is horizontal scrolling while the blog template is laid out in traditional vertical style. So you get the best of both worlds with this theme. The portfolio is very simple; no frills, just a string of images lined up side by side with no space for text, which to me is a bit of a shame. The blog template is straightforward and presents content in a single stream with a left-hand sidebar.
Author: Shaken & Stirred / Type: Portfolio & Blog / Price: $40 / Demo & Download →
The Core Minimalist WordPress theme is another minimalist portfolio theme targeting photographers or anyone looking to showcase graphic intensive collections. The front page gallery, along with the main portfolio template are horizontal sliding. The author has added a wealth of layout options including vertical grid based layouts with 2 or 3 columns for an alternative approach to portfolio content organisation. One of the key presentation features of this theme is the “mirror” effect added to images. Each image in the theme's slider has a faded mirror double displayed beneath. This creates a slick feel to the whole design. The theme is feature-rich and comes with an array of templates and configuration options. For more info, check out the presentation page.
Author: Peerapong / Type: Portfolio / Price: $49 / Demo & Download →
6. Modern Metro
As its title indicates, this theme is inspired by the Windows 8 operating system design, known for its primary colour tile based layout. Like the Windows 8 welcome screen, the Modern Metro theme houses all your content in small sections on the theme's front page. From left to right you can arrange the elements to include your latest blog posts, then portfolio entries, contact and general info and you can even generate visual info-graphics with the metro chart system. The theme's comprehensive admin panel allows you to manipulate colour schemes and you can set background images on posts and pages.
Author: Kluska / Type: Blog & Portfolio / Price: $44 / Demo & Download →
The HWP theme by Greg Ponchak – a devotee to WordPress horizontal scrolling themes – is easily the most minimally designed theme in this selection. It doesn't get much more simple than this. A clean white background, an image front and centre, and a few controls around the outside. This theme is really an image slider with the ability to overlay text and setup some WordPress pages. It is the sort of theme that could be used for a single collection of images. I could well imagine setting up a WordPress network and using this theme to run several different photo collections. If you're looking for something to display tons of data then this is obviously not for you. If you want to showcase your artwork though, this could well be a candidate.
Author: Greg Ponchak / Type: Blog & Portfolio / Price: $40 / Demo & Download →
I hesitated to add this theme to the list, since only the front page slider is horizontal scrolling, but since it's such a dominant part of the theme's overall design, it seemed worthy of a mention. Furthermore, I think “hybrid” themes are the way forward. Simpleslider shows off your portfolio entries in its elegant front page slider, which serves as a springboard into the site's main content. The theme is clean and airy, perhaps with a little too much whitespace at times, particularly on the vertical scrolling pages between the main content and sidebar areas. I think the overall weighting and proportions of elements in this theme could do with a little more fine tuning. That being said, I think the theme lives up to its name. It's slider is great and it certainly is simple to use and navigate.
Author: Dessign.net / Type: Blog & Portfolio / Price: $39 / Demo & Download →
9. Magpie Theme
Number 9 in this list is a theme is called Magpie. It is a beautifully crafted, responsive and horizontal scrolling theme. One of its key features is the ability to add custom background images to blog posts and pages. The post content sits on top of the image over an opaque overlay. You can navigate from one post to the next via clearly defined scrolling arrows, which maintain the sideways momentum of the theme. The theme comes with 6 different colour schemes and a range of built-in templates including a blog, an archives page, a contact page and more.
Author: ThemeVillage / Type: Blog & Portfolio / Price: $49 / Demo & Download →
10. Diablo Theme
At number 10 is the all new Diablo Theme. This theme has been reworked into a beautifully executed horizontal grid layout. You can play with the way post entry thumbnail images appear, either using a rollover effect or displaying the post title and metadata directly. Single posts are also well laid out and easy to use. The added left-right navigation buttons on single posts makes it easier to go through site content. The theme comes with several core colour schemes including light and dark variants and the blog has a range of different template styles from horizontal to metro style. All in all, this is a welcome addition to the horizontal theme world.
Author: CosmoThemes / Type: Blog & Portfolio / Price: $49 / Demo & Download →